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a separate branch of the Indo-European language family that includes the Indie (Indo-Aryan), Iranian, and Dard languages. The combination of these three groups of languages into a separate branch is motivated by the presence of an undisputed Indo-Iranian linguistic community that preceded the separation of the individual groups and preserved a number of very important archaisms of the Indo-European period. The original nucleus of the community may have formed in the steppes of southern Russia (traces of contacts with the Finno-Ugrians, which most likely occurred to the north of the Caspian Sea) and continued to develop during the period of settlement in Middle Asia or adjacent territories.
The presence of an Indo-Iranian linguistic and cultural community is corroborated by the data of the comparative historical grammar and vocabulary of these languages, which includes a large number of identical elements designating key concepts of Indo-Iranian culture, religion, social institutions, name words (including the self-designation *arya, “Aryans”), and material culture. The migration of the ancestors of the Indo-Aryan tribes to India resulted in the separation of the Indo-Aryan and Iranian tribes and their respective dialects (data on the Aryans in Southwest Asia beginning with the mid-second millenium B.C.). On the whole, the modern Indo-Iranian languages are characterized by a number of general tendencies toward loss of inflectional declension, the development of analytical forms in declensions and conjugations, the development of ergativity, and more rigid word order in the sentence. The modern Indo-Iranian languages are distributed in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka (Indo-Aryan), Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan (the western part), Iraq (the northern regions), Turkey (eastern part), and the USSR (Tadzhi-kistan and the Caucasus).
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Oranskii, I. M. Vvedenie v iranskuiu filologiiu. Moscow, 1960.
Oranskii, I. M. Iranskie iazyki. Moscow, 1963.
Edel’man, D. I. Dardskie iazyki. Moscow, 1965.
Grantovskii, E. A. Ranniaia istoriia iranskikh piemen Perednei Azii. Moscow, 1970.
Grierson, G. A. Linguistic Survey of India, vols. 1-11. Calcutta, 1903-28.
Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, vols. 1-2. Strasbourg, 1895-1904.
Handbuch der Orientalistik, division 1, vol. 4, Iranistik;sec. 1, “Linguistik.” Leiden-Cologne, 1958.
Morgenstjerne, G. Indo-Iranian Frontier Languages, vols. 1-3. Oslo, 1929-56.
V. N. TOPOROV